By Dan Ashe
Editor’s Note: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe is the person ultimately responsible for the welfare of the nation's fish and wildlife and its habitat. This enormous duty puts Ashe in a perfect position to realize how much damage the threatened budget cuts to federal conservation programs would inflict on those priceless resources—and, as a lifelong hunter and fisherman, he also understands how much those cuts would harm our sports and their future.
This is his response to Conservation Editor Bob Marshall’s recent column about the specific losses those potential cuts would cause, and explains why sportsmen must exclude conservation programs in any calls for budget reductions.
by Dan Ashe
Like all duck hunters, I know that, oftentimes, the worse the weather, the better the hunting. I look at our current conservation climate in much the same way.
Although our nation is going through some rough economic weather right now, we can’t lose sight of the fact that there are still enormous needs – and opportunities - for fish and wildlife conservation.
I understand and respect hunters, anglers, and shooters who believe that in the current budget climate, conservation programs should share in any cuts. This community has always put what is right ahead of what is easy, and I believe the reluctant support some may give for budget reductions comes from genuine patriotism.
But we should recognize that America has always found a way to enrich her conservation legacy despite difficult times. During the Civil War, President Lincoln inked a land deal for what later became Yosemite National Park. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era, hunters supported landmark legislation that created the Federal Duck Stamp and the Wildlife Restoration Act, contributing to the establishment of 142 wildlife refuges across the nation in that decade alone.